Turnover Turmoil: 7 Benefits To Help Retain Top Performers

By Diane Domeyer, Executive Director, The Creative Group, a specialized staffing service placing creative, digital, marketing, advertising and public relations talent with the best companies on a project, contract-to-hire and full-time basis. 


In today’s tight job market, it can be difficult to hold on to your top talent, no matter how many awards your agency has won or how many snacks you stock in the breakroom. Your valued employees have a lot of professional opportunities open to them, especially if they have in-demand design and digital skills.

More than half of advertising and marketing managers say staff retention is more difficult now compared to one year ago. According to The Creative Group’s State of Creative Hiring research, 51 percent of managers polled say unexpectedly losing a highly skilled team member would have a significant adverse impact on productivity and morale since these workers are often difficult to quickly replace. And they have a right to be concerned. In a separate survey by Robert Half, 43% of workers said they plan to look for a new job by mid-2020.

So how can you avoid turnover in a job market that can easily lure top talent away? Providing good leadership, meaningful work and a positive corporate culture are sure ways to keep your team around. But you should also consider additional benefits your team may want — no longer does health care coverage and a retirement savings plan with an employer match cut it. Our data shows that 48 percent of agencies and creative departments used better benefits as a retention tactic in the last year. Here are 7 benefits and perks that can add to your retention strategy.

  1. Offer flexible scheduling options. More than ever, employees not only seek out but expect jobs that allow them to telecommute full- or part-time, work flexible hours, job-share and/or work a compressed workweek. Also consider summer hours. During the summer months employees work an extra hour Monday through Thursday, and then work half days on Fridays, allowing them to enjoy the summer weather. Some companies simply allow their employees to leave at 3 p.m. on Fridays in June, July and August, without requiring make-up hours.
  1. Improve professional development. Our research shows that 55 percent of hiring managers in the creative field say they experience the most turnover among mid-level employees. At this stage in their career, they may be leaving if they don’t see an opportunity to learn new skills and take on new responsibilities at your firm. Offering professional training and development is win-win —  employees appreciate the opportunity to sharpen their skills on the company’s time and dime. And industry conferences, training and seminars will result in new skills that will give their creative work added value. In addition, some larger companies and agencies have the ability to offer tuition reimbursement or assistance, helping employees earn advanced degrees while working full-time. ­
  1. Offer more money. Thirty-nine percent of companies in the sample we polled raised salaries more than they traditionally would have to retain creative and marketing employees in the last year. And 43 percent increased bonuses. Make sure you benchmark your compensation rates with those of your competitors by consulting resources such as The Creative Group 2020 Salary Guide.
  1. Model good citizenship. Employees value companies and agencies that support the communities and causes they care about. To that end, amplify your employees’ personal donations with a matching gifts or grant program. Encourage your staff to be active in the community by offering paid time off for volunteer work. Some agencies will even engage in volunteerism as a team once or twice a year during working hours. Practicing good citizenship as a group also serves as team-building, a feel-good win-win for all involved.
  1. Amp up your amenities. Agencies and creative departments are notorious (and loved) for over-the-top perks. Consider providing daycare discounts, gym memberships or class passes to local fitness studios. Also popular: relaxation lounges, game rooms (think foosball, billiards, ping pong, video games), on-site massages and guided meditation or even just a place where employees can take a quick break to reset their creativity.
  1. Subsidize transportation. This can include free parking and subway or bus passes. Managers also might consider offering discounted bike-share or car-share memberships. With car-share memberships, employees can bike or use public transportation to get to work, but still have access to a car for during-the-day appointments. To foster a bike-friendly environment, provide easy ways for employees to lock up or store their bikes, and consider installing a couple of showers for folks who’d like to freshen up before sitting down to work. Some companies even provide bike tune-up days in which they’ll hire someone to come in and fix/tune up everyone’s bikes at no cost to employees.
  1. Offer appetizing incentives. Think beyond the coffee maker and Costco-size powered creamer. Consider offering free or subsidized snacks or lunches, once a week or daily. Something as simple as a basket of snacks in the breakroom can improve morale while also avoiding the dreaded afternoon “hangry” feeling. And the occasional catered lunch for a job well done can have a lasting impact.


As Vincent Van Gogh said, “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” Sometimes just a few added benefits can help you keep your best people and improve your team’s job satisfaction. But don’t forget that a good retention strategy is much more than the benefits and perks you offer. Compensation, career advancement, effective leadership and open communication are other important components. Revisit your retention strategy at least once a year to evaluate how you can keep your employees happy at work.